Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader

By Herminia Ibarra

You aspire to lead with greater impact. The problem is you’re busy executing on today’s demands. You know you have to carve out time from your day job to build your leadership skills, but it’s easy to let immediate problems and old mind-sets get in the way. Herminia Ibarra—an expert on professional leadership and development and a renowned professor at INSEAD, a leading international business school—shows how managers and executives at all levels can step up to leadership by making small but crucial changes in their jobs, their networks, and themselves. In Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, she offers advice to help you:

• Redefine your job in order to make more strategic contributions
• Diversify your network so that you connect to, and learn from, a bigger range of stakeholders
• Become more playful with your self-concept, allowing your familiar—and possibly outdated—leadership style to evolve

Ibarra turns the usual “think first and then act” philosophy on its head by arguing that doing these three things will help you learn through action and will increase what she calls youroutsight—the valuable external perspective you gain from direct experiences and experimentation. As opposed to insight, outsight will then help change the way you think as a leader: about what kind of work is important; how you should invest your time; why and which relationships matter in informing and supporting your leadership; and, ultimately, who you want to become.

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I was excited to read this book initially, but was pretty disappointed with it when I got around to reading it. All the wisdom this book dispenses is in the title: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader. To be a leader, you have to act like one.

There. Just saved you the trouble of reading the book.

There wasn’t anything ground-breaking in here. It’s basically divided into three sections: redefining what your job actually is, networking, and allowing your leadership style to evolve. I only found the third section to be interesting.

My biggest problem with this book was that there were no real concrete examples. Whenever Ibarra would talk about her case studies, she’d use abstract, theoretical words to illustrate her concepts rather than specific details. Compared to other books I’ve read, this was a less insightful read.

 

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